The film making and entertainment industry comes very close behind oil refineries as the business sector responsible for the highest carbon dioxide emissions. The cost of filming, special effects, lighting, staging spectacular concerts, carrying celebrities all over the world by plane and a myriad of other activities use vast amounts of fossil fuel. The entertainment sector has always brought in large amounts of revenue and with fiercer and greater competition for that treasured slot as box office number one or top of the charts or ticket sales, it is not surprising that Hollywood and other centres do not want to cut back.
Hollywood Recognises the Need to be Green
It is also true that the film making and music industry is all about image and having that image tarnished by less than favourable statistics about environmental impact is forcing the people involved to rethink their approach. It is now common for a block busting film to attempt to be carbon neutral during production, although this usually involves spending some of the future, projected profits on carbon offset projects.
What does the Environmental Media Association Do?
The Environmental Media Association (EMA) was formed at the end of the 1980s, so has been going now for over 20 years. It was set up to raise awareness of environmental issues and to educate people working in the entertainment industry to take action to reduce the impact of their activities. For the larger Hollywood film makers, the EMA created a special award – the Green Seal, a sort of seal of approval for films that managed to adhere to a set of ecofriendly standards. Recent films that scooped the Green Seal include Angels and Demons, starring Tom Hanks, Jennifer’s Body and Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, starring Logan Lerman.
Other Pressure Groups
Encouragement for Hollywood to become greener has also been coming from the Center for Social Media at the American University that is based in Washington DC, and the California Film Commission (CFC). The former initiated a code of best practice for filmmakers that highlights how they can make film production more environmentally sustainable. The CFC has devised a green resource guide to show film makers how to source supplies and equipment from more ecofriendly sources.
Hollywood is Taking Action
The action in front of the camera to produce exciting and popular films is now being matched by environmental action behind the scenes at many of the larger production companies. Companies such as the giant film maker Warner Bros. Have set up dedicated divisions that advise on ecofriendly film production. The main priorities are to increase energy efficiency, reduce waste and also the environmental impact of the waste that cannot be avoided and to reduce consumption of non-renewable resources.
Today, each new film starts with an environmental action plan and everyone from the producer and director to the stars of the film and all of the crew are made aware of the way that the film will be made, putting ecofriendly activities as a necessary part of filming. Sam Mendes is one of the Hollywood directors that has subscribed to this very enthusiastically. His film Away We Go was made as green as possible. Only hybrid cars and trailers were used, power generation came from biodiesel run generators, the crew and everyone acting in the film had organic food supplies and all food waste was composted. As much other waste as possible was recycled. Efficiency was improved and the film was made using as few locations as possible, restricting the distance travelled to shoot.
The carbon footprint of the film was measured in detail, and this is widely regarded as the model for all future film making.